When Polltime ‘Yatras’ Walk out of Step, Get out of Tune
As the bugles sound for yet another round of electoral battle, the political parties have begun testing the waters with some abandon, by setting out on marches to galvanise their rank and file, and present their viewpoint on issues before the masses.
All political parties seems to be bitten by this bug as they feel it is one instrument that will yield immediate results. The flip side is that in the absence of any professional tool to measure the delivery quotient of these political ‘yatras’, parties continue to be enamoured of this ‘formula’ of success at the hustings.
At the ground level though, it is no secret that many of these marches have failed to evoke the desired results; their sheen having got diminished over the years. While the political parties continue to claim that these ‘yatras’ are a success, political commentators and analysts have a different take. They point out that the very slogan of the marches get forgotten or deviated from the main goal by the time each and every march winds to its laborious conclusion.
“What we witness today are pageants that are feudal in character, organised by spending lakhs of rupees and executed pompously,” said Malayinkeezh Gopalakrishnan. Often the beneficiaries are the captains of these ‘jathas’, whose political fortunes get altered.
“The first ‘jatha’ taken out under the leadership of Ramesh Chennithala in 1987, during his Youth Congress days, helped him to project himself as a leader of state level stature,” said Gopalakrishnan. Unlike in the past, the ‘jathas’ undertaken by the CPM, a party known for its organisational skills, are found to be wanting when it comes to making a political impact, despite the crowds.
P Rajan, a journalist and political commentator feels that recent marches including the ongoing ‘Kerala Raksha Yatra’ led by Pinarayi Vijayan and the one undertaken by Youth Congress president Dean Kuriakose failed to evoke the desired response. “The political marches have transformed into mere roadshows. It has lost the charm,” said Rajan.
According to him the Kerala Raksha Yatra was torpedoed the moment VS demanded a CBI probe into the TP murder conspiracy. “Now Vijayan is left with the task of explaining the party’s innocence in the heinous murder,” he said. K Surendran, state general secretary of the BJP, was candid when asked about their relevance.
“The political marches are organised for the sake of doing so and have little impact on society. When Pinarayi Vijayan organises a march a against corruption it evokes only ridicule,” he said. M Vijayakumar, state committee member of the CPM and a former minister, dismisses such talk as apolitical and without merit. “There is no point in the claim that there are no takers for political marches,” he said.